When it filed to go public this week, Airbnb Inc. said that its ability to continue doing business in China is a risk factor for its brand and profitability.
Operating in the country has sparked debate among the home-sharing startup’s senior leadership for some time, leading a top executive to depart abruptly last year, according to people familiar with the company.
Airbnb hired Sean Joyce, a former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in May of 2019 as its first “chief trust officer,” a role that entailed protecting users’ safety on the platform.
He resigned six months later over concerns about how the massive rental platform shares data on millions of its users with Chinese authorities, the people said.
A high-profile hire for Airbnb, Mr. Joyce grew alarmed during his tenure that the company wasn’t being fully transparent about the data it shares with the ruling Chinese Communist Party government, including for Americans traveling in the country, these people say. He also was concerned about what he viewed as Airbnb’s willingness to consider more expansive data requests from China, the people familiar said.